A couple of days ago, after Sri Lanka thrashed New Zealand in a test match played in Sri Lanka (primarily due to Muralitharan’s exceptional bowling), Mark Richardson (former Kiwi batsman) resurrected the issue of “Murali chucking the ball by going beyond the 15-degree”.
Typically, with yet another “chucking claim” from a non-Asian affiliated with the game, Asians will be quick to react that such claims provide more evidence for the negative bias against Asian cricket teams. Yes, history has provided some reason for such reactions. For example, when Simon Jones bowled beautifully in the 2005 Ashes, England called it reverse swing, but when Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis (the Sultans of swing) bamboozled the English batsmen, England called it “ball tampering”. It is such hypocrisy of teams like England and Australia that has alienated some of the Asian cricket players and fans.
However, with regards to Mark Richardson’s recent comments on chucking, I believe he makes a very valid point. He did not attack or blame Murali, but rather criticized the ICC for its inept policing of chucking.
I also believe that the ICC’s current policing of chucking is woefully inadequate. As per the current process, an umpire refers a suspect bowling action to the ICC, the ICC conducts several laboratory tests on the bowler with the suspect action and based on the test results, concludes whether the bowler chucks or not.
The ICC makes a bowler completely aware that it’s testing his bowling action in the comfort of a laboratory and expects him not to be consciously or sub-consciously aware of this fact and consistently replicate the same bowling action he uses in all situations in highly competitive international cricket matches.
If a suspect bowling action can only be confirmed in a laboratory, then the only excuse I can find for the ICC following the current nonsensical process is the lack of adequate technology. On the other hand, if a technology which allows a bowler’s action in cricket matches to be analyzed exists, then the ICC should perhaps police chucking as follows:
Ensure the law(s) related to legal bowling is/are unambiguous.
Create a team of experts who are very proficient in all technologies required to measure and confirm whether a bowler bowls or chucks.
Create a schedule for every Calendar year to randomly select International matches and analyze all bowlers’ actions in those matches. The selection of bowlers whose actions are analyzed must be uniform across all teams. Based on the results of the analysis, bowlers should be informed whether they have a legal or an illegal bowling action and action can be taken accordingly to ensure all players play within the laws of the game.
If a bowler’s action is so suspect that an umpire refers the action to the ICC, then the bowlers’ action in that match must be analyzed to confirm or reject the umpire’s suspicion.
If there isn’t a technology which can capture and analyze a bowler’s action in any cricket match, then bowlers (with suspect actions) who are subjected to laboratory tests could play “Catch me if you can!” with the ICC.